Rockinger Bass with Tremolo / Whammy early 1980s - Earliest with bass tremolo w/ fine tuning screws?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Havn_Fun, Jan 31, 2020.

  1. Havn_Fun


    Jan 28, 2020
    I have recently acquired a Rockinger bass with a tremolo / Whammy bar on it from the early 80's. I have not been able to find another bass tremolo with fine tuning screws that has been made before it or like it. I believe it was made between 81 and 83. I am hoping that some information can be added about the bridge and the guitar. It is pretty cool and extremely well made. Best of all it sounds awesome.

    I have many questions that I hope the group may know. I would like to put the history together for this bass because of its possible historic significance.

    This is a Rockinger bass completed at the factory with a Rockinger tremolo.

    Is this the earliest bass with fine tuning tremolo screws?
    Has anyone seen this tremolo before on a bass?
    Thoughts on date manufactured?
    How to read their serial number?

    At the time in the early 80's, Eddie Van Halen was using the Rockinger tremolo. Rockinger and Kramer had an arrangement to use the EVH tremolo, but Eddie opted for the Floyd Rose, which he continued to use after. Only a limited number were produced by Kramer.

    The Tru Tune tremolo was the top selling tremolo before being overtaken by Floyd Rose and Kahler.

    When I opened the cover for the pots it appeared no one had ever opened it or the truss rod cover. The wires were folded neatly, soldering clean, three ply pickguard that was cut and used as spacers on the pots. perfect.

    There are some blemishes as you would expect from an instrument that is over 35 years old.

    This is what I gathered:

    Rockinger 1978
    The company did not make many guitars or basses but instead sold quality replacement parts. This has a serial number neck plate is five digits xxxxx.

    Tru Tune 1981 - bridge - company formed and at some point they changed the saddles. This has individual height and a locking screw for each string.
    The BASS:

    Body: 1 piece mahogany
    Neck: 1 piece maple - thin nut. large fretwire
    Headstock - (Fender replica during the Lawsuit years?)
    Rockinger logo is written in gold (appears black in pictures)
    Tuners: Not stamped - Kluson?
    Tremolo-Is not stamped, but is most definitely a Rockinger. Later models I have seen have all been stamped
    Brass Block
    Fine tuning thumbscrews
    Pots: Noble 10a250k


    Many companies use the first two digits to indicate the year and the next to indicate production number. If I use that method it is an 81. I have also been told it can be the first and last digit which would be an 83. 81xx3. Thoughts?

    If anyone can help with any information it would be appreciated.


    Attached Files:

    ajkula66 likes this.
  2. Havn_Fun


    Jan 28, 2020
    I would love to get a vote if this is the oldest fine tuning bass tremolo anyone has ever seen.
    Please respond with a yes or no.

    If other members have pics of other basses with tremolo/whammy bars, it would be cool to see.

  3. ZedLepp


    May 12, 2013
    I have an old warlock bass body with a Kahler in my graveyard. One day I will track down a neck and restore it to it's former glory, but I a few other projects before that.
  4. fretno

    fretno Supporting Member

    May 10, 2009
    more pics please , can't really see how that thing works . Here is my CT clone with Kahler




  5. Havn_Fun


    Jan 28, 2020
    Thanks for the pictures..that is a really nice bass. I can definitely see many differences in the design. What year is the bass.
    Here are a few more pictures. I hope this helps IMG_1511.JPG IMG_1514.JPG IMG_1515.JPG IMG_1519.JPG IMG_1520.JPG IMG_1521.JPG IMG_1524.JPG IMG_1527.JPG IMG_1665.JPG .
    fretno likes this.
  6. fretno

    fretno Supporting Member

    May 10, 2009
  7. fretno

    fretno Supporting Member

    May 10, 2009
    I think Mr. Clarke had an Alembic with a modified Bigsby back in the day
  8. Havn_Fun


    Jan 28, 2020
    I sounds like Stanley did. I found this in another thread on TB:

    "'The only one I ever saw with a vibrato was the one on the cover of "I Wanna Play For You." It had a Bigsby on it. I think he used it on one song on that album and I never saw it again."

    Stanley Clarke's vibrato

    I know they used a vibratos/tremolos prior to this time period but Floyd Rose gets the credit for the Locking Tremolo invention:

    Here is some of the history:

    "The Floyd Rose Locking Tremolo, or simply Floyd Rose, is a type of locking vibrato arm for a guitar. Floyd D. Rose invented the locking vibrato in 1976, the first of its kind, and it is now manufactured by a company of the same name. The Floyd Rose gained popularity in the 1980s through guitarists like Eddie Van Halen, Neal Schon, Brad Gillis, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and Alex Lifeson, who used its ability to stay in tune even with extreme changes in pitch. Its tuning stability comes through the double-locking design that has been widely regarded as revolutionary; the design has been listed on Guitar World's "10 Most Earth Shaking Guitar Innovations"[1] and Guitar Player's "101 Greatest Moments in Guitar History 1979–1983."[2]

    The first patent was awarded in 1979,[7] and shortly afterward, Rose made an agreement with Kramer Guitars because he could no longer keep up with demand manufacturing the bridges by hand. Kramer's guitar models with the Floyd Rose bridge became very popular, leading them to drop the earlier Rockinger vibrato in favor of the Floyd Rose between June 1982 and January 1983.[8] The Floyd Rose design's popularity led to other companies making similar bridges, thus violating the patent. Notably, courts found that Gary Kahler's vibrato bridge infringed on Floyd Rose's patents, and awarded a judgment in excess of $100M against Gary Kahler.[9]"

    Floyd Rose -
    invented 1976
    First patent - Patented 1979 US patent 4171661.

    Any non patented/logo'd Floyd Rose or Rockingers out there?

    Rockinger starts in 78:
    Rockinger History
    Rockinger Guitars.

    "The "Rockinger" electric guitar kit sees the light of day and hits the mark. Just at a time when the manufacturing quality of many established manufacturers often leaves something to be desired and there is very little innovation on the market in purely innovative terms, it is quite convenient for guitarists in Germany to be able to design an instrument according to their wishes for manageable money. Especially since the individual components are of exceptionally good quality, because even then our company impressed with its selected range of mostly self-designed replacement parts.

    The Rockinger Tru Tune Tremolo (1980)
    The first fine tuning tremolo in the world, which Kramer Guitars launched under the name "The Edward Van Halen Tremolo" in the USA and caused a worldwide sensation. In 1981 our own distribution company was opened in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Further inventions in terms of replacement parts (e.g. Tellybrator, Black Box etc.)."

    When Rockinger came out with the Tru Tune, the saddle design changed. Any examples of the bridge that I have seen have had the Rockinger stamp, whereas this does not. Prototype perhaps

    It appears that in the earliest dates of the fine tuning tremolos Rockinger and Floyd Rose led the way. Rockinger held the title for a short time before being overtaken by Floyd Rose and Kahler.

    Any of the information that I have been able to research has turned up information focused on the guitar versus the bass, which does not help define the history of the bass guitar.
    fretno likes this.
  9. Havn_Fun


    Jan 28, 2020
    Stanley Clarke - Alembic Basses..and the Bigsby
  10. FC Bass

    FC Bass Alembic and Mesa/Boogie junkie

    Jun 9, 2006
  11. Havn_Fun


    Jan 28, 2020
    Very nice....let's trade ;)
  12. Havn_Fun


    Jan 28, 2020
    I am curious if you may know any additional information regarding the history of the fine tuning tremolo's?